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Monday 24th October 2016

NICE faces first legal challenge

28th March 2007

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is facing its first judicial review over its decision to restrict drugs for people with Alzheimer’s disease.


Alzheimer's drug manufacturer Eisai and its co-promotion partner Pfizer were granted permission for a review by the High Court.

It will centre on the watchdog’s decision not to recommend Aricept, also known as donepezil, for NHS patients with newly-diagnosed, mild Alzheimer's disease. Eisai and Pfizer said the process was unfair, a claim denied by NICE. Their legal action is supported by the Alzheimer’s Society.

The drugs aim to help sufferers to carry out every day tasks, and cost around £2.50 a day.

NICE had ruled in 2001 that donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine should be used as standard, but in November 2006 said those newly diagnosed with mild Alzheimer's would be exempt.

Now the High Court has granted permission for a review on donepezil. Any final ruling will also cover rivastigmine and galantamine.

NICE has repeatedly stated that the claims being made against them are without foundation.

Separately, the Alzheimer’s Society has submitted evidence to the Health Select Committee’s inquiry into the remit of NICE, looking at why its decisions are increasingly being challenged.

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